Cook's Note:The holidays can be a busy time, to make things easier prep the lasagna in the morning and keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake it.
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1 large green bell pepper
- 12 lasagna noodles, cooked, from 1 box of Barilla Lasagna
- 1 Pound hot Italian sausage
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- ⅔ cup milk
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, divided
- 1 cup Parmesan Cheese, divided
- 1 24-ounce jar Barilla Tomato & Basil Sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Boil the lasagna as per the package instructions.
- If making the Christmas tree design on top of your lasagna, reserve ⅓ of each the red and green bell peppers. Dice the remaining bell peppers, set aside.
- In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat brown the sausage for 2 minutes, breaking chunks apart with the back of a wooden spoon. Add in the onions and diced peppers and cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
- While the sausage is cooking, use a mixer to beat cream cheese for 1 minute. With the mixer on low, add the milk in a steady stream to combine. Increase mixer speed to medium and continue to mix until light and creamy and there are no more lumps, about 2-3 minutes.
Combine mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and lightly toss with your fingers. Reserve 1-1/2 cups (half of the cheese). Add the other half of cheese to cream cheese mixture; mix well.
- Drain the fat from the sausage mixture. Stir in the sauce, water, and basil until combined. Spread ⅓ of the sausage and sauce mixture into the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan; layer with 3 noodles and half the cream cheese mixture. Add another layer of 3 noodles, then half the remaining sausage mixture, followed by 3 more noodles. Layer the remaining cream cheese mixture, the last 3 noodles, sausage mixture and reserved 1½ cups of cheese. Use the reserved bell pepper to make your Christmas tree design. Cover with foil.
- Bake for 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let the lasagna cool for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped basil.